Juanita Moore, a groundbreaking actress and an Academy Award nominee for her role as Lana Turner's black friend in the classic weeper "Imitation of Life," died Wednesday, Jan. 1. Moore was only the fifth black performer to be nominated for an Oscar, receiving the nod for the glossy Douglas Sirk film that became a big hit and later gained a cult following.
Moore played Annie Johnson in the 1959 movie. Imitation of Life was the story of a struggling young actress (Turner)with a six-year-old daughter sets up housekeeping with a homeless black widow and her light-skinned eight-year-old daughter who rejects her mother by trying to pass for white. One of the most memorable moments was when Johnson's character died and her daughter returned home to the funeral as Mahalia Jackson sung "Precious Lord."
Moore also had an active career in the theater, starting in the early 1950s at Los Angeles' Ebony Showcase Theatre, a leading black-run theater. She appeared on Broadway in 1965 in James Baldwin's play The Amen Corner and in London in a production of Raisin in the Sun. Her TV roles included "Judging Amy," "ER" and "Marcus Welby." Her movie credits include "The Kid," "Paternity" and "Two Moon Junction."
According to report by ABC News, actor Kirk Kelleykahn, her grandson. He said Moore collapsed and died Wednesday at her home in Los Angeles. Moore was 99.